Foster Care Agency in Child-Rape Lawsuit Doesn't Want You to See Its State Contract Application

Categories: Courts

Why does America's Angels want to withhold information?
Here's what we know about Uneeda Newsome-Talley and her foster care child placement agency, America's Angels: The agency is accused of negligence related to a foster parent's boyfriend allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl.

We know that, in its two years of existence, the agency has repeatedly been cited by state investigators for failure to perform background checks on frequent visitors to its foster homes. We know that ex-employees told the Press they had concerns about Newsome-Talley being too close to her network of foster parents.

But there's more that Newsome-Talley doesn't want the public to know. And, thanks to Texas's open records law, a state agency needs to help the subject of an open records request bury information.

In researching America's Angels, the Press filed an open records request for the agency's procurement records with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. We were hoping to see what information Newsome-Talley provided to the state to show that she had the credentials to look out for the safety and well-being of children.

We were told that, pursuant to state law, the department had to first give Newsome-Talley a chance to object to the request and prove why some or all of the information should remain private.

The open records law allows -- but does not require -- a state agency to seek an Attorney General's opinion before releasing the information. For some puzzling reason, the department decided that was necessary in this case. And because the department did that, the law says officials "shall make a good faith attempt to notify" the subject of the records request. Plus, officials must explain to the subject "each reason the person has as to why the information should be withheld."

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